'Professional' Cracksman saunters to easy Ganay success under Dettori
Prix Ganay (Group 1) | 4yo+ | 1m2½f
Cracksman put on a scintillating show at Longchamp on Sunday to leave trainer John Gosden and the rest of his entourage dreaming of another stellar season as Europe's highest-rated horse of 2017 picked up where he left off at Ascot in October.
While stablemate Enable will be a formidable obstacle if and when they finally meet, Cracksman's horizons were widened considerably as he showed quick ground poses no problems in winning the Group 1 Prix Ganay by four lengths.
How he coped with the surface was the first thing Gosden inquired of Frankie Dettori after his stable number one performed the first flying dismount of the new era at Longchamp.
The trainer was keen to stress that Cracksman's ability to handle a faster surface than he had encountered in the second half of last season – when he signed off in the Champion Stakes with a seven-length victory – would be the major lesson he took from a Prix Ganay in which Cloth Of Stars and Rhododendron promised to provide a big test.
As it turned out, Cracksman – rated 130 last year, 2lb clear of Arc-winning stablemate Enable – had plenty in hand over all six rivals in this 1m2½f contest.
They were led home by Wren's Day, pacemaker for Cloth Of Stars, who was third, three-quarters of a length behind the second. The Aidan O'Brien-trained Rhododendron was another three-quarters of a length back in fourth, while the Ralph Beckett-trained Air Pilot trailed home last.
"The great thing is he's won today on good – it’s slightly the faster side of good having walked it – so that’s great, plus he goes in the soft," said Gosden, who admitted the never-ending winter had been a test in preparing Cracksman.
Physically it appeared obvious beforehand that Cracksman had taken the passage from three to four in his stride but Gosden confessed he was equally delighted with his protege's mental attitude.
"I was thrilled because as he passed me at the furlong pole he got down and low, he stretched, which is always great to see," he said. "He's a stronger horse this year and is filling out from three to four, let alone four to five. I'm impressed how cool he is, how relaxed and professional he is.
"He could go to Ireland for the Tattersalls Gold Cup if he was in great nick, then the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. I know that's what [owner] Mr [Anthony] Oppenheimer is thinking."
Cracksman is general 6-4 favourite for the Prince of Wales's Stakes, while he is second favourite for the Arc at a best-priced 4-1, behind Enable at 3-1. She is likely to be aimed at the Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom.
Despite the easy success, Dettori was nervous beforehand, saying: "It's the first Group 1 of the season, he's one of my best rides, so of course I got nervous.
"It's a relief and he's got a fantastic season ahead. I can't be any more impressed, it was a great performance."
Dettori admitted at being surprised how tough it was to get past Wren's Day, whose best effort in four outings last season was third place in a Deauville conditions race that earned him an official rating of 91.
Cloth Of Stars settled much better than when pulling hard in the Sheema Classic and looks potentially set for a return to a mile and a half.
"He was still pretty keen but it was an improvement on Dubai, which is what we wanted to see," said Godolphin's Lisa-Jane Graffard. "He finished well and galloped home, which confirms to us he's a 12-furlong horse and we need to find a race with some pace in it."
Of the runner-up, Graffard added: "Wren's Day seemed to be suited by going out on front on ground he likes.
"He took everyone by surprise but has been leading Talismanic and Cloth Of Stars at home so is professional and knows his job."
Read exclusive reports from 6pm every day at racingpost.com